These Are the Best Fake Punk Songs

Fred Armisen as Ian Rubbish
Fred Armisen as Ian Rubbish
Photo courtesy of Ian Rubbish and the Bizaros

Ian Rubbish is the alter-ego of comedian Fred Armisen, he of Saturday Night Live, Portlandia and, yes, actual punk bands.

Armisen, in fact, knows his punk, which is what makes Rubbish so much fun. He got every obsessive detail correct in the SNL skit where he re-enacts the day the Sex Pistols said "dirty fucker" on a British talk show, for example.

Tomorrow night, Armisen plays as Rubbish at the Center for the Arts in Eagle Rock. In the meantime let's delve into "fake punk" -- which has a real punk sound but plays for laughs.

As you'll see, it's kind of a real thing. Here are the top five fake punk songs:

5. Alberto y Lost Trios Paranoia

"Kill" (1977)

Alberto and his actor-comedian pals had been faking on everything since the early '70s, deploying their own proto- and genre-specific Weird Al-style instincts against hip musicians like Lou Reed. When punk hit, they probably thought, "Psh, easy." "Kill" was released on actual punk label Stiff and designed as a goof on the Damned and the Sex Pistols. But really it's like a super-concentrated version of the Damned and the Sex Pistols.

4. Candy Slice and the Slicers:

"Gimme Mick" (1979)

Candy Slice is Saturday Night Live legend Gilda Radner's fake punk band, which puts it up there with Richard Pryor's Black Death in terms of comics going rock 'n' roll. Secondly and more nerdishly, this is Gilda Radner's fake Patti Smith, an informed choice when most fake punkers began at Johnny Rotten and stopped at "ha ha, look at that hair, man." (Also note Paul Shaffer in there, too!) Candy's other and arguably more awesome song is "If You Look Close (You Can See My Tits)" which had been chased off YouTube at press time.

3. Pain

"I Dig Pain" (1982)

Pain were the villains on an episode of CHiPS in the '80s, although in that appearance they seemed more like select extras suddenly wrapped in leather jackets and thrown on a strange stage while a voice from the darkness shouted, "Just sing it like 'Born To Be Wild.'" From such indifference, however, can come great things, and "I Dig Pain" could be the best Fear song that Fear never wrote: "Kick me when I'm down / Come up and rip my shirt / My dad will buy another one / Especially if I'm hurt."


2. The Fabulous Stains

"Join the Professionals" (1981)

This was originally a real punk song by the Professionals, the band with members of the Sex Pistols and Clash. They put it out as a 7", and it was subsequently given to fake punk band the Fabulous Stains, a trio of actresses, who through some irreproducible instance of teenage disgruntledness and magic transformed it into a song that is punk as fuck and probably years ahead of its time with its all-rhythm, all-rage arrangement. (Another Stains song was ably covered by L.A.'s Yacht a few years back.)

1. The Edge of Etiquette

"I Hate You" (1986)

Everything fake punk should be. 1) It came from fucking nowhere--it's the song from the bus scene in Star Trek IV, playing as Spock chokes out some mohawker. 2) It was made by a band that existed for only as long as it took to record this song, leaving no further opportunity for ruining their perfect fakeness. 3) It's so dumb it penetrates the event horizon and crash lands on Planet Unintentional Genius, with immortal lyrics like, "I hate you! / And I berate you! / And I eschew you! / And I say, screw you!" that should have been given to the Weirdos.

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Center for the Arts Eagle Rock

2225 Colorado Blvd.
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